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Challenges of IT Staffing for Small and Medium Businesses

 

Challenges of IT Staffing(short version)  In this video, Rick Stomphorst, principal consultant, Search Velocity and co-founder, Silicon Halton. Discusses the challenges faced by small and medium sized businesses when they attempt to hire inhouse IT staff.  This is the abridged 6 minute version.  Watch the entire 11 minute video.

[transcript]

Introduction

My name's Rick Stomphorst I'm the principal consultant from Search Velocity and I'm the co-founder from Silicon Halton. What I do is I connect talent to business, business-to-business, and people to people. Through Search Velocity what I do is help small boutique search firms and small businesses aquite the talent they need to become successful and for the search companies to become successful in placing talent. Through Silicon Halton what we do is we are building a high-tech community of the some two hundred fifty companies that exist in Halton Region.

Hiring IT Staff for Small Businesses

Most non-IT core businesses at some point in their life will hire that first IT person. It will seem like a small, incremental improvement usually to a situation that is existing in the company. The company has grown to a certain size and the defacto standard IT person who is supporting your computers, your internet, your phones gets overwhelmed with the work. So the company makes that first small incremental decision to hire that first IT resource. It could be a programmer who can also to maybe build out some homegrown line of business applications you have and generally have some web wherewithal so they can manage your Internet and they can do some rudimentary work on your desktops, your laptops, your blackberries, your iPhones and perhaps even start to deploy some servers.

Slippery Slope

What happens however with these small, incremental hires is that it becomes a slippery slope. Each incremental hire makes it harder and harder actually for the non-core IT business to stay fluid and dynamic in their business because now you start to build out an IT infrastructure behind you that you own. The analogy of bringing on that first IT resource would be: imagine if you were a flower delivery company. You have, say, ten vans. Would you hire a mechanic? Bring a mechanic on board full time to look after your fleet of ten vans? And then imagine that you are growing some more. Would you then hire a specialist in transmissions or specialist in brakes? You can kind of see where this is going. At some point you have got a huge department of people who just manage the vans when your core business is flowers.

Breadth of Technology

One of the challenges of bringing on small, incremental improvements in staffing levels is the breadth of the technology it takes today to run your business and the rapid pace at which that technology is evolving and changing. the technology gets more and more complex over time, not less. You will be adding. Beyond desktops you will move a plethora of technologies that your company as it grows, will need. But, you become more and more and more challenged to attract the right IT resources to maintain that environment that your business so heavily will become reliant and dependent on.

Right Type of Staff

Another challenge is to find the right staff at the right time. At some point your business cycle, you're going to need an architect who can design and layout what your infrastructure should look like. When you start to add all of these various technology components to keep your business afloat you're going to need a different resource to manage that. The IT talent that you find today who can architect your environment is not generally best suited to maintain that environment going forward. Conversely, IT staff who maintain the environment generally aren’t the best people to architect your environment. when you do bring in that architect to review your entire infrastructure, they are going to find lots and lots and lots of issues. They are going to ask why was this architected this way? Because each one of those was a point solution designed by somebody in the trenches, as opposed to somebody able to take a step out of the trenches looking at it holistically The other challenge of having your IT staff who are in the trenches supporting your environment do the design work is: what is their technical competency? Are they up to speed on the latest and greatest technologies that are coming around? In terms of if they lay out this environment, are they laying out yesterday’s environment? Or are they laying out an environment that will work for you tomorrow and well into the future? Inhouse staff invariably only get a limited exposure to IT technologies. The day to day hands on exposure is generally just what you have in your environment. Anything outside of that that you want to bring in, you are going on a reference or best guess or something that they have read and that may not be the right answer for your business.

Conclusion

As a small to medium business owner, really what want is peace of mind and stability in your IT environment. So you can focus on your core business which could be selling flowers. So the best practice is really to keep as few as possible, is any, IT resources in your organization. You are best suited to have a company that has these very skilled people, these very highly talented people that you can draw upon when you need them you don't need an architect on staff all of the time. When you leave all of that IT work outside with a specialist company that does this, you no longer have to worry about attracting IT talent to keep your business going, to manage an IT environment that the company has become hugely dependent on. By outsourcing your IT services, you become in control of the business, truly in control of the business as opposed to this illusion of being in control of the business for all of these reasons that I have talked about.

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